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# What is the theory of relativity?

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The theory of relativity is a theory developed by Albert Einstein that explains the relationship between space and time. The theory states that different viewers see the timing and spacing of events differently depending on their location in the universe.

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Credit: Anders Thirsgaard Rasmussen CC-BY-2.0

The theory of relativity is divided into special and general relativity. Special relativity states that the speed of light does not change as the Earth moves around the sun. According to special relativity, all observers measure the speed of light in a vacuum at 186,000 miles per second regardless of the speed and direction they are moving. In addition, there can be no motion at a speed greater than that of light in a vacuum. The general theory of relativity expands the findings from special relativity to include the concepts of time and space. The theory concludes that acceleration distorts the shape of time and space, and predicts phenomena such as the bending of light around massive objects and the speeding up in the rotational period of binary stars and pulsars.

General relativity also states that space and time becomes more distorted around an object with very high gravity, such as a black hole, which consequently results in the distortion of matter. Since its development, the general theory of relativity has strongly influenced developments in advanced physics, geometry, astronomy and cosmology.

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